… how shall I be dismayed?

Wanting for nothing, how shall I be dismayed?
Grieving for no thing lost or unattained,
why would I choke on the sharp bones of regret?
I am a guest in this house, thoughtful of my manners,
Mindful of my privileges, and so filled with gratitude
that when I pray, my prayers turn to praise upon my lips

This was part of the daily thought from Inward Outward and it really hit home.

I recently experienced a personal disappointment and felt rather slighted as a result.

I spent quite a while formulating a reply expressing my feelings succinctly (I thought) on the matter.

Then I read this and realised I was grieving for the thing “lost or unattained” and probably (more to the point) “choking on the sharp bones of regret”. Yet I couldn’t think of a good reason why!!

So my carefully constructed expression of disappointment was deleted.

And then mindful of all my “privileges” – all the wonderful and positive things (and people) in my life – I moved on in gratitude …and in praise 🙂

Picture is ‘shepherd’s delight’ by Mike Lockie on Flickr

Growing into prayer…

To speak about prayer is indeed presumptuous. There are no devices, no techniques; there is no specialized art of prayer. All of life must be a training to pray.

We pray the way we live.

(Abraham Joshua Heschel)

This quote was today’s ‘thought’ from  inward/outward … and it did make me think.

I have read lots of books on prayer which told me about the ‘proper’ technique and attitude and gave advice on timing and location, etc, etc. And none of them really helped, they just made me feel as if I had an inadequate prayer life!

This quote turns things around. We should not be looking for a prayer life, but rather living a life of prayer.

Prayer is more about who we are and how we are living, than the many (and frequently empty) words we offer up as prayer.

We grow into prayer as we live each day with God and for him.

It should become as natural as breathing. But maybe that takes a lifetime?

Photo is from ‘a day of silence’ set by Jonny Baker on Flickr

Clay…

IMG_0081Take the clay of our lives and shape it to love
Take the clay of the church and shape it to grace
Take the clay of the world and shape it to peace
Take the clay of today and shape it to hope

And then breathe your spirit into all
again

For ever and ever
Amen

A header from Cheryl’s blog which scrolled up today. I think I may have posted it before… but it is well worth a repeat.

I like the idea of being clay.

There is so much potential for creativity… for shaping and reshaping.

Clay is source material… dynamic not static… brought to life by the Spirit of God.

(Photo: copyright free image)

Sowing and Reaping

may we be the best seed there is to sow
may we sow our talents
and our skills
may we sow grace
and forgiveness
may we sow our dreams
and our longing
may we sow sunrises
and broken bread
may we sow stories
and adventures
may we sow the whole of our faith
and the first moments of belief
may we sow meeting places
and moment of prayer
may we sow baskets of fish
and loaves for everyone
may we sow pearls of great price
and mustard seeds too
may we sow patience
and generosity
may we sow the future
and all our tomorrows
may we sow for the long term
and live in that promise

and when the thistles creep in
may we still sow

A nice wee meditation from Mucky Paws based around the Parable of the Sower

A reminder that we should always give the best of what we are and what we have in the service of the kingdom of God.

I am very impatient by nature. I want things to happen now. I want them to change now. I want results now!

So the challenge for me in this moment is to “sow for the long term and live in that promise” despite all the thistles which cover the soil.

Perspective … and some!

Being as I am the holiday cover (overlapping slightly) for two local ministers for the next two weeks… I am currently up to my neck in funerals – three in already this week (none of them mine) and its only Wednesday of week 1!!

So perhaps you will forgive me for some less than serious postings!!

I came across this one on asbojesus … the Batman ones are my all time favourites. Mind you… given the condition of our church sanctuary (note to new readers: we now have to worship in the church hall) and the current concerns about the hall itself this one is maybe a little too close to the bone. But it made me smile none the less 🙂

I know who I think Batman and Robin are in my current situation… but I am not going to blog it!

Praise him…

Praise by R.S. Thomas

I praise you because
you are artist and scientist
in one. When I am somewhat
fearful of your power,
your ability to work miracles
with a set-square, I hear
you murmuring to yourself
in a notation Beethoven
dreamed of but never achieved.
You run off your scales of
rain water and sea water, play
the chords of the morning
and evening light, sculpture
with shadow, join together leaf
by leaf, when spring
comes, the stanzas of
an immense poem. You speak
all languages and none,
answering our most complex
prayers with the simplicity
of a flower, confronting
us, when we would domesticate you
to our uses, with the rioting
viruses under our lens.

Now that I am thinking about RS Thomas I thought I would post another of my favourites. Read this poem a couple of times… it is just wonderful.

I love the beauty and the power of Thomas’s imagery. Here we read of a God who is complex beyond our imagination, who is out of the reach of science.

This God murmurs to himself  “in a notation Beethoven dreamed of but never achieved”. He makes music in the rainwater and the waves. He sculpts with the shadows. He puts spring together for us …leaf by leaf… like a poet composing an epic poem.

He is the God of all human language but also the God beyond language… who speaks through his creation – “answering our most complex prayers with the simplicity of a flower”.

And we cannot domesticate him. We cannot define him or box him up -when we try, we will always discover more. God (like his creation) will riot when we put him under the microscope… growing bigger… multiplying before our amazed eyes.

I am humbled beyond words to worship such a God.

Picture is ‘cool, cool water’ by Mike Lockie on Flickr

Not knowing…

i was happy before

in the ignorance of not knowing
i was living without you

but now
you are more present
in your absence
than any of the things around me
that i can touch with certainty
at any time

the emptiness left by the imprint of your soul
has become the shape in which
i live my life.

Another wonderful poem from Cheryl at hold this space.

I love her stuff because it works on so many different levels.

This poem could be about the precious relationship/friendship that shattered… the death of a loved one… separation from family or friends. Their presence lingers… their influence still shaping the present and the future.

It also has echoes of R.S. Thomas and Via Negativa (Negative Theology). (If you read my old blog you will know how much I love Thomas’s poetry). Thomas speaks of a God who is wholly present in his absence, knowable in his hiddenness and who speaks in silence.

He is “the darkness between stars”.

We follow “the echoes…the footprints he has just left…”

……………………………………

Why no! I never thought other than
That God is that great absence
In our lives, the empty silence
Within, the place where we go
Seeking, not in hope to
Arrive or find. He keeps the interstices
In our knowledge, the darkness
Between stars. His are the echoes
We follow, the footprints he has just
Left. We put our hands in
His side hoping to find
It warm. We look at people
And places as though he had looked
At them, too; but miss the reflection
.

Via Negativa (R.S. Thomas)

Picture is ‘tiptoe through the shallows’ by Mike Lockie on Flickr

A thin line between…

here where every step
triggers a memory
of that time once before
where i said yes
in spite of the certainty of failure

[and fail i did]

here where every step
reminds me of the paper thin
line on which i walk
where neither side
on which i might fall
holds any chance of survival

here i take a breath
of the air that’s filled only with the question
of faith

and say yes

anyway.

A wonderful piece from Cheryl at hold this space .

It works for me on so many levels.

It reminds me of “thin” lines I have walked in the past… through projects that failed…jobs that frustrated… difficult decisions that had to be made… all those times when I was caught between a rock and a hard place.

Yet this piece is full of hope…  and there is a challenge to move forward in faith even when it seems as if failure is inevitable.

Will you say “yes anyway” to the impossible… the risky… to the thing that scares you most in this moment?

I dare you to “take a breath” and a step of faith towards the one who is worthy of our trust.

Picture is ‘cut off by the tide’ by Jonny Baker on Flickr